Much of this past weekend was spent catching up on television. In brief: season two of Dexter makes me happy I stuck with the show through a shaky first half of season one, Heroes makes me sad that Kristin Bell is being wasted like this, How I Met Your Mother makes me amazed what kind of stuff is allowed to be aired at 8PM and The Office, thankfully back to half-hour installments, makes me agree that there really can be too much of a good thing.
But most exciting is that I finally got to sit down and watch the first four episodes of Pushing Daisies and, though it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows my tastes in television, I would like to declare for the record that I love this show. In a nutshell, it’s a fantastical hour-long comedy about a pie maker with the ability to bring the dead back to life with a touch, and then kill them forever with another touch. Their new lease on life lasts exactly 60 seconds or else someone/thing else in near proximity dies instead. The pie maker uses this ability to work with a private investigator to solve murders and collect the rewards until one day, he ends up bringing his childhood sweetheart, newly murdered, back to life and opts to keep her alive (at someone else’s expense) though they can never touch. Hilarity ensues. Yes, it’s a big nutshell but that’s how it goes.
Not surprisingly, the mastermind behind this show – Bryan Fuller – is also the one who brought us the equally wonderful Wonderfalls (the actor who plays pie maker Ned was also the layabout brother on Wonderfalls) but happily and more than a bit surprisingly, Pushing Daisies is already a hit for the new season and has been picked up for the full season. Surprising because usually shows this idiosyncratic, stylish and all-out quirky are doomed from the get-go. The whimsical, cartoonishly technicolour visuals are almost certainly the most unique on television – network or otherwise – but belie the charmingly dark sense of humour at work. Re-read the plot – how can it not be dark? The cast handles the sharp, rapid-fire and deliciously odd dialogue perfectly and Anna Friel, as lonely tourist Charlotte Charles, is a blend of Zooey Deschanel and Mary Louise Parker that could have come right out of a focus group consisting of me and me only.
Some reviews I’ve read have wondered about the shelf life of the show’s recipe, speculating that what was charming at first will drift into irritating as the season wears on. This is entirely possible. That the show has seemingly engaged a large portion of the great unwashed that make up the network TV audience, not a demographic I generally have a lot of faith in, is astonishing in itself – usually critical acclaim like its gotten is a death sentence. But for now, I will sit back and enjoy the fact that there’s still 18 more episodes to come, and heartily recommend you do the same. Tuesdays at 8 on CTV and Wednesdays at 8 on ABC.
Video: Pushing Daisies promo
The New Yorker profiles David Simon, the creator of my other favourite current show (pretty much the complete diametric opposite of Pushing Daisies though dead people do figure heavily into both), The Wire. The final season starts January 6.
The Sydney Morning Herald and Harp talk to Steve Earle.
Bummer to hear BrooklynVegan report that Land Of Talk got a pile of their gear ripped off last week in New Jersey. Hope they got enough replacement equipment together for last night’s show at the El Mocambo.
But good things happen in New Jersey, too (though less so if you have allergies – not for nothing is it called The Garden State). Consider native daughter Nicole Atkins, whose Neptune City is finally out today and which you can stream below at Spinner. The Star-Ledger and ACED have feature interviews with her about her record and home state. She will be at Lee’s Palace on November 18 opening for The Pipettes and is on Letterman tonight! With Jennifer Connolly! And SLASH! Maybe he’ll sit in with the band?
Stream: Nicole Atkins / Neptune City
And speaking of Pipettes, MySpace has a “behind the scenes” video interview with the band while The Washington Herald and Drowned In Sound offer old-fashioned text ones.
Also streamable and out today is the whole of the I’m Not There. More tracks beyond the four initially on the MySpace have gotten out there in the past week but the full album stream is certainly your best one-stop shop for previewing the riches contained within. And congratulations to Janet and Craig who won copies of the album via my contest.
Stream: I’m Not There Original Soundtrack
Pitchfork reports that the first proper Magnetic Fields album since 2004’s i will be out on January 15 of next year and bear the almost certainly misleading title of Distortion. But if you want to believe that Stephin Merritt has discovered the joys of the Big Muff Pi, you go right ahead.
Also forthcoming – Another Country, the new record from Tift Merritt, due out February 26.
NPR is streaming a World Cafe interview and session from Metric which includes some new songs for those seeking a sneak preview of their next album. Also streamable at NPR, The New Pornographers’ recent show in DC complete with opening sets.
Harp interviews Bjork.
Billboard talks to Adam Franklin about the Swervedriver reunion, currently targeting an April 2008 return to action.
Drowned In Sound challenges Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite to say something nice about Radiohead. Which he does. With many caveats.